The lecture will explore the manuscript tradition of Barhebraeus’ Metrical Grammar in the light of its use by Eastern and Western scholars between the 14th and 16th century. The interest in language description will be set within a broader picture of cultural and linguistic correlations, connecting the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds over the centuries.
Written in the second half of the 13th century, the Metrical Grammar is a concise description of the Syriac language that enjoyed great popularity among Syriac Christians as well as Western scholars, from its composition until modern times. Through the centuries, readers and copyist added a rich and interesting commentary to the main text, providing precious information on their linguistic and cultural background.
Many of the oldest extant copies of the text are now part of HMML’s digital collection and constitute a primary source for the reconstruction of the Grammar’s textual tradition. In the last decades of 16th century a copy of the Grammar rom 1360 got to Rome and was purchased by Giovanni Battista Raimondi, the scientific director of the Tipografia Medicea, Europe’s first press specialized in Oriental languages.
Barhebraeus’ work was hence copied several times in Rome and was used as a linguistic tool in the preparation of the typography’s Syriac editions. The commentary was a primary source for the composition of the first Latin grammar of the Syriac language, written by George Amira and published in Rome in 1596.
This event is co-sponsored by the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and the Collegeville Institute.
Margherita Farina is a temporary research assistant at the University for Foreigners of Siena, Italy. She graduated in Classics in 2005 from the University of Pisa, Italy, and got a PhD in Linguistics in 2009 at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, with a dissertation on Syriac verbal system, published in 2011 by Gorgias Press: An Outline of Syriac Middle Voice. Evidences of a Linguistic Category. Between 2008 and 2011 Margherita participated in a new cataloguing of the Syriac manuscripts of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana of Florence. In 2012 she was the curator, together with Sara Fani, of an exhibition of Oriental manuscripts at the Biblioteca Laurenziana, entitled Le vie delle lettere. La Tipografia Medicea tra Roma e l’Oriente, on the history of the Medici Oriental Press. Margherita is currently involved in a project for the comparative study of ancient grammatical traditions, within which she translates, edits and studies the Metrical Grammar by the Syriac author Barhebraeus (d. 1286 A.D.). Margherita is a recipient of the Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, Fellowship in Eastern Christian Manuscript Studies at HMML.